Friday, June 23, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, June 23, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Americans had captured one of three heights before Cherbourg, Tourlaville, four miles southeast of the city, as the port appeared about to fall to the Allies. The troops threatened the other two heights, at Nouainville, 2.5 miles southwest, and La Mere a Conards, 1.5 miles south. Fighting was described as bitterly opposed and occurring yard-by-yard against German pillboxes hidden by greenery along the hills. The Nazis fought only with small arms, machineguns, and light artillery. The American forces were now too close to the German lines to enable continued Allied air support.

On the eastern side of the Peninsula, American troops took Carneville, while a particularly fierce battle raged five miles east of Cherbourg for the airfield at Maupertus. On the western side of the Peninsula, there was continued advance toward Beaumont Hague.

It was unclear whether previous reports placing American troops within 1,500 yards of the harbor were correct.

The night before, the RAF attacked railway yards at Reims and Leon, losing seven bombers.

During the previous day, 6,000 Allied planes had dropped about 8,000 tons of bombs on the Cherbourg Peninsula, Pas-de-Calais, and in the vicinity of Paris, making it the day of largest air operations since D-Day.

In the Pacific, the Japanese Fleet was in hiding somewhere between Luzon and Formosa in the China Sea. The Navy Task Force which had inflicted large losses and gave chase until the enemy fleet disappeared into the darkness was identified as Task Force 58, possessed of most of the 22 new carriers in the American Fleet built since Pearl Harbor. It had been this massive Task Force which had pursued and harassed the Japanese Navy for the previous six months.

On Saipan, the American forces had trapped 20,000 Japanese, as reinforcements landed to seal the fate of the enemy. American forces advanced a mile on the east side of the island at Magicienne Bay.

The Japanese Imperial Command admitted in a statement that matters in the area of Saipan had become quite serious, and also admitted encountering the large American Fleet, described as consisting of more than twenty carriers, a dozen battleships, and in excess of a hundred transport ships.

Admiral Chester Nimitz updated the number of ships sunk in the Naval engagement to fourteen and the number of planes lost by the Japanese to 358. The Sunday air battle with the enemy which had proved for them so costly was said to have resulted in 353 enemy planes shot down, all in the vicinity of Guam. Thus, between the two engagements, the Japanese lost planes roughly equivalent in number to the entire complement of aircraft accompanying the Task Force which delivered the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal announced that U.S. submarines had sunk, in addition to the ships sunk and damaged by the Task Force, sixteen other Japanese ships in undisclosed locations. The loss raised the number to 50 ships sunk by American subs during the month of June. It raised the total bag for the war to 774 ships sunk or damaged, of which 663 had been sunk. Thus, over 7% of the total sinkings in the Pacific for the war had taken place during just the previous three weeks.

In Italy, the Germans appeared to be making a stand between Lake Trasimeno and Lake Chiusi, and north of Perugia, the Eighth Army having encountered heavy resistance in the latter area.

On the Adriatic front, the Eighth Army was reported to be within 25 miles of the port at Ancona, approaching the Chienti River.

On the west coast, the Fifth Army had moved forward against strong resistance along Highway 1, approaching Follonica, 55 miles below Pisa. Since taking Grosseto two days earlier, the Army had encountered increased resistance.

The Germans reported that the Russians had begun their summer offensive, after a lull along the entire front, save in Finland, since early May and the victory in the Crimea at Sevastopol. The Russians were reported moving along a wide front in the Pripyat Marshes, following the most difficult road to Warsaw and Berlin. The front extended from Mogilev north to Vitebsk.

British Home Secretary Herbert Morrison declared to Commons that the German flying bomb, the V-1, had done little damage thus far, despite on occasion as many as ten being in the air at the same time. The statement came a few hours after the heaviest attack by V-1's since first they were launched June 15.

On the editorial page, "Wallace" comments on the statement to Marshal Chiang Kai-shek by Vice-President Wallace during his trip to China that there was reason to believe that the war with Japan would be finished within a year, that the post-war environment must be one in which Japan could not again rise militarily, that no balance of power would be attempted which could enable such military renascence. To insure that status, it would be necessary to see to it that certain states in and around Asia seeking sovereign independence would be assured of it, to provide bulwarks against Japan. He did not name them but, presumably, he meant the divestiture by Britain of India and the Malay States.

The piece comments that if the statements were made with the imprimatur of the Administration, then they were quite significant in suggesting post-war policy for Asia.

"Jap Fleet" quotes from a letter received from a sailor in the Pacific who assures that the Japanese were awaiting their time for a major naval engagement, that they were neither stupid nor cowards, but were simply practicing stealth, in hope of a chance to attack when the American Fleet would be cut off from its bases.

The editorial indicates that the Fleet would now have to corner the Japanese to engage in the decisive battle at sea. They had given the Fleet the slip this time, albeit suffering mighty damage to both ships and aircraft in the encounter.

"Three Years" gives high praise to the war effort of Russia on the third anniversary of the invasion by Hitler, at 3:00 a.m., June 22, 1941. It sets it down as the greatest blunder of the war committed by Hitler and the one which it believes future historians would pin as the beginning of the end of the Nazis.

The Germans had been recorded as losing 7.8 million men to the Russians' loss of 5.3 million, the numbers so staggering as to be incomprehensible. The sacrifice of the Russians could not be adequately measured and was the greatest among the Allies in the war. The Russians had won the greatest victories of the war, opines the piece, irrespective of events to come in Central Europe.

When the Anglo-Americans would meet the Russians in Berlin, it continues, they would greet a worthy Ally who had done more than any other single nation to help win the war.

"Leadership" gives praise to the local anonymous businessman who had provided a gift to the city of $50,000 to build recreation facilities for returning servicemen, both white and black.

Drew Pearson indicates that an article in Life had revived the issue of the single-release parachute versus the triple-release version which had caused drowning deaths during training. The article claimed that Army parachutists still favored the conventional triple-release version. Army Major General O. P. Echols, however, clarified to the House that the statement was incorrect and, after extensive testing, the Army did in fact desire the single-release. This view differed from the Navy, however, who still preferred the triple-release type, apparently the result of less testing undertaken by the Navy.

He next imparts of confusion between Senator Scott Lucas of Illinois, a New Deal Democrat up for re-election in the fall, and Republican Senator Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska, an Administration foe. Senator Wherry had apparently had his secretary call Senator Lucas’s office to pledge a thousand dollars to his campaign. But when the check did not arrive, Senator Lucas asked Senator Wherry on the Senate floor when he might expect it, whereupon Senator Wherry informed him that he had intended a check for Senator Rufus Holman of Oregon, not Senator Lucas, the mistake being that of Senator Wherry's secretary.

Who's on Second?

Next, Mr. Pearson comments upon the decision of the State Department to recognize the new reform government in Bolivia, but only under pressure to do so from Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela. Mr. Pearson adds that, for ten years, the U.S. had led in Latin American relations; now, it followed.

Finally, he tells of isolationist Senator Gerald Nye of North Dakota running for re-election on the ironic claim that he had brought war contracts to his native state. The fact was that North Dakota had received only eleven million dollars worth of war contracts, the smallest amount in the nation, the next smallest being 65 million dollars worth in Wyoming. He had instead used his post as ranking minority member on the Appropriations Committee to oppose every piece of defense legislation brought before the Committee prior to Pearl Harbor.

Samuel Grafton reports of the passing from the scene in France of the men who had sold the country out four years earlier, the men of Vichy. They were not unlike the American nationalists in their policies, he offers, and the two groups would likely find much in common in the way of their hatred of Russia and desire to undermine trade unions.

Marquis Childs discusses the House and Senate conference to resolve their differences on the Price Control Act, extending the life of OPA. The attempts to emasculate the agency through the Bankhead Amendment, removing controls on cotton production, and the Dirksen Amendment, to abolish the special streamlined court designed to hear the cases of alleged price violators, had both been eliminated from the final version of the bill, and it thus appeared acceptable to the President, even if having been tampered with enough that OPA would still have to fight harder to ward off inflation.

Hal Boyle, reporting from England, continues to tell of life in preparation for the Normandy front, that the men were not only prepared to get going but were anxious to get into the fight, were dissatisfied that, in this case, they had been delayed for a day.

He relates of a corporal who appeared to be bucking for promotion to Sgt. Bilko. Cpl. Ira Lick out of Texas was keen on winning dollar bills on bets. He had bet fellow Texan, Lt. Col. Earl Hudder, a buck that he could find him a decent automobile to drive in France. He then quickly located from amid the rubble of a chateau a somewhat battered but repairable Citroen, which the colonel was now driving. He received his dollar.

If it had been a Peugeot convertible, found next to a tomato patch, it would have been genuinely eerie. (Cf. New York Times, June 24, 2011)

Harry Golden again writes to The News, bitterly attacking the column appearing two days earlier from Italy by George Tucker, who had written warmly of the two Italian opera singers, Giuseppe De Luca and Beniamino Gigli, living reclusively but comfortably in Italy, awaiting the end of the war when they might return to perform at the Met in New York. Mr. Golden finds the scene thus depicted all too touching, complaining that Gigli had performed for four or five years in Nazi Germany while denouncing the United States, and De Luca had offered himself for performance at the aborted World's Fair in Rome in 1940, at the invitation of Il Duce, who enjoyed listening to him.

Jiggly on occasion or not, it was said that Gigli was heard to respond thusly to the calumnious attack on his political beliefs. Curiously, he had sung the piece idiosyncratically, inserting what sounded to be "yo" before each word before which it would naturally appear, at least in the Bronx. He also reconditely scratched the bottom of his chin with the tops of his right hand fingernails each time he uttered the phrase.

De Luca simply said, in garbled translation, "Non si occupi di mai, lui dormirà presto con i pesci."

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